It’s only fair to this house that I state what I hope to focus on as a senator for New South Wales. I will put the people of New South Wales and Australia first, to the best of my ability, in everything this house asks me to consider.
The following are some extracts:
Someone once said that, if opponents don’t speak against you, you probably are not standing up for enough. Anyone who’s googled me—and that seems to be most of the Western world and all the media in the last week or so—knows that various opponents regularly speak against me because I have publicly voiced my views on issues. I was targeted because I criticised the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government over its neglect of its national defence responsibilities. Some single-issue polemicists wanted to take me to the International Criminal Court years ago as a supposed war criminal because I fought in Iraq, and that has echoed more recently. Those who failed to stop the boats or said it could not be done attacked me, and of course they attacked many others, because we did it. I was publicly attacked by apologists at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas because I was a board director, with a military background, of the then brilliant St James Ethics Centre. And, most recently, I was abused as a murderer at a function held in Redfern. If opponents don’t speak against you, you are probably not standing up for enough.
Let me finish with reference to the most important determinant of what I am, the Australian military. If I had a military mentor over the years, it is retired Lieutenant General Des Mueller, who launched the book that I wrote back in 2008, and I thank him for 25 years of wise counsel. Des was and is a brilliant blend of Sparta and Athens. My boss in Iraq was US General George Casey, who commanded the war in Iraq for three long years while I ran it for him for only the first of those years.
Too many to name are the Australian soldiers of all ranks who’ve worked for me, with me or above me over 40 years, because I’ve learnt so much from them while pretending to know much more than I ever actually did. Many of them have contacted me in the past week to express their support for me when the place of men and women in uniform in our society was challenged.
Napoleon said: if you want to learn a nation’s interests, go to the graves of its soldiers. Many Australian dead have been brought back to Australia, but many still lie close to where they fell. Australia’s interests lie across the face of this earth. We are an international nation with worldwide interests. I’ve visited many battlefields and played cameo parts on some. What strikes me is the consistent performance of Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen over more than 100 years and around the world. Today’s soldiers are as good as, if not better than, any we have sent overseas, and much of that is due to our Australian culture and the leadership, training and equipment that accompany them. To me, they represent everything that is good about Australia because they are Australian. I dedicate my efforts in this house to them. Thank you.
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